Sunday 5 May 2013

Hacking: So Easy a 12 Year-Old Can Do It

In the security biz, we often mention the fact that you don’t need to be a genius to hack a computer. In fact, learning the ins and outs of compromising systems is so easy, a 12-year old can do it. And that’s exactly what teachers at an Alaskan middle school recently learned.
Over 300 computers at Schoenbar Middle School started acting funny last week after a group of 12 and 13 year-old students gained admin credentials through phishing attacks on their teachers.
This little guy is after your data!
According to the Associate Press, the young students obtained the credentials by asking teachers to input admin-level user names and passwords for a fake software upgrade.
"No software issues were compromised. I don't think there was any personal information compromised. Now that we have all the machines back in our control, nothing new can happen," said principal Casey Robinson. [BBC]
Now, of course, this whole thing is pretty harmless. No real damage was done and the students involved are likely headed towards stable, successful careers in computer science. But this kind of event should serve as a good reminder that anyone can be a hacker.
After all, if a pre-teen can outfox educators, imagine what that guy sitting in the corner at the café might be up to. All he needs is a piece of software and a Wi-Fi connection to start downloading your emails and activity.
This is the kind of thing responsible web surfers need to worry about and this is exactly why VPNs are so great. We aren’t asking you to be paranoid; we’re asking you to be responsible. Sure, most of the time, even on unsecured Wi-Fi, you probably won’t be the target of a malicious attack. But it does happen and it’s easy to prevent. When you leave your home, do you expect a robbery attempt? Probably not, but that certainly doesn’t stop you from locking the front door. A VPN should be treated the same way. You might think you're safe, but if you can lock the door with a click of the mouse, why take the risk?
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